Recently, I had a phone conversation with a D.C. driver in the hopes of better understanding how he’s driving in D.C., and something he said really stuck with me. You see, Josh is a veteran driver, so he’s had his fair share of issues where he’s had to contact his rideshare company. We’re talking passengers puking in his car, accidental deactivations, even a few dishonest passengers. Pretty much par for the course. What’s surprising is that after 18 months of driving for the company, he’s only recently been able to speak with the big rideshare companies over the phone. “I’m not sure how you launch a service like Uber without 24-hour phone support for drivers who are on the road in the first place.” said Josh. “It makes drivers feel like 2nd class citizens on the platform.”
Phone support may seem like a small issue to some, however, when we talk to drivers, a lack of driver support is one of the biggest problems that they have, and it turns out a new service called Via is getting it right the first time by priding itself on building a ridesharing company that values and takes care of drivers. But that’s not where the differences between Via and the other companies end.
Via originated as a true ridesharing service where all passengers ride with one or more other passengers going to a similar location. Via now offers private rides, but Via riders are very much used to riding with others, and many riders still choose the true ridesharing option.
Now, I know many drivers aren’t fans of the big companies’ true ridesharing offerings, so I talked to a few drivers to understand why they decided to move to Via and got some interesting answers. Let’s first look at how Via actually works.
How does Via work?
Do you know what the least profitable portion of a normal rideshare trip is?It’s the pickup and the drop off. Drivers can spend 5+ minutes playing phone tag and searching for a passenger that doesn’t quite know where they dropped their pin when they are picking them up, and then another 5+ minutes when they are forced to leave a main road to find a passenger’s exact drop off location.That’s at least 10 minutes that drivers are burning EVERY TRIP from just dropping off/picking up passengers.Via is different.Instead of having to navigate off streets, drivers only do corner-to-corner drop-offs and pickups, which saves time and helps drivers maximize their profitable hours.Via offers only corner-to-corner drop-offs on private and shared rides, however, with shared rides, drivers get a bonus multiplier for every additional passenger that you pick up. Each passenger adds anywhere from 5% – 15% to your time and distance fare in what via calls a “Sharing Premium”.
Live Customer Support
“They don’t even read your messages,” says Dave, a D.C. area Uber, and Via driver. “It’s like they have a really bad A.I. system replying to your messages completely out of context.”David is a long-time driver, first with Uber, occasionally with Lyft, and now he’s focusing a lot of his time on Via because he is “Sick of the bad robots” as he puts it. If you have ever tried to deal with Uber’s customer service then you know exactly what Dave is so unhappy with.Uber’s customer support often leaves drivers, and passengers, waiting hours or even days for a response, and if there is one, you wonder if they even read your message and almost never receive a thoughtful response.With Via, you can call a real human to help you with any issue that you may have any time of the day. This means instead of getting a canned response, you get to express your issues to a real human who thinks strategically about how they can solve your problems.Novel concept I know, but one that Via nails.“When at least part of your livelihood is tied up with a company, you REALLY would like to be able to reach them.” says Dave. “It seems small in comparison to things like pay rates, but it means everything.”
Avoid the last block
Perhaps Via’s most distinguishable benefit is that Via never makes drivers go that frustrating last block to pickup or drop off a passenger. Via places drop off points strategically around your city so that you stay on the most efficient route possible, which means no more searching for that hidden driveway on the street with no lights at 9:30 in the evening. Now, this isn’t too different from Uber’s new Express POOL service where drivers will again go to a preselected intersection to drop passengers off. The difference, however, is how passengers perceive the service. Dave highlighted this difference when we spoke to him about driving for Via.“A ton of Uber Pool passengers don’t realize they got a Pooled ride. So when they figure it out, they can become less than cordial,” says David. “Now I always ask passengers if they know they’ve gotten a Uber Pool, but with POOL Express, now I just get passengers begging me to take them off my route and right to their doorstep.”You see, when passengers use Via, they know exactly what they are getting into. They didn’t accidentally click on the cheapest option, and they fully understand when you ride with Via that you’re riding with a few other people and you’ll get dropped off a few blocks from where you started.That means no “misunderstandings” with passengers and no passengers trying their hardest to convince you to drop them off at their doorstep.
Big Bonuses + Lowest Commission
“The pay isn’t the only reason I drive for Via, but it doesn’t hurt,” said David when we asked him how he felt about Via’s pay rates.Via’s guaranteed hours and bonus structure make for some big days for those who drive in specific areas called Rocket Zones.A Rocket Zone is a area of a city where Via offers a fare boost of anywhere from 1.2x to 3.0x, check out a map of the Rocket Zone’s in D.C.:
Not only does Via offer a huge multiplier in these zones, but Via also takes just a 10% commission for each ride. Check out a sample fair breakdown below.
Who can drive for Via
Almost anyone with a 4-door sedan that’s newer than 2010 can drive with Via in D.C, New York, or Chicago.Via’s car requirements are as follows:
Via accepts most vehicles that meet the following criteria:
- Licensed with the TLC
- Models 2011 or later
- Black, dark grey, silver, white or dark blue exterior
- Leather seats or Fabric seats 2015 or newer
Via accepts most vehicles that meet the following criteria:
- Model year 2010 or newer for non-luxury vehicles
- Model year 2005 or newer for luxury vehicles
- All vehicles must pass a vehicle inspection
Via accepts almost all mid-size Sedans, all SUVs, and all Vans that are newer than 2010. Check if your vehicle qualifies by clicking here.
Who should drive for Via
“If you do nothing else, try it out, take the bonus, and see how you like the service.” Says David, and we’d have to agree. Via is a great option for rideshare drivers in all of the available cities as long as you can manage to drive during peak hours.Now I’m wondering, how many current Via drivers do we have out there? How do you like the service? Also, if you’re not yet driving for Via and are interested in making the switch, they’re currently offering a $1,000 fare gaurantee to new drivers, so now is definitely a great time to try out the service.